LIVE REVIEW: Listen Out 2016
Much to the relief of Perthites unaccustomed to the unseasonably cold and wet weather (it’s late September goddamnit this isn’t okay (it just snowed in Albany are you serious?!)), the skies opened up after a night of rain, bringing sunshine and smiles to festival-goers, with a cool breeze to remind us that the annoying jackets wrapped around our waists and shoulders would be much appreciated later on.
Among the early acts were electronic uncle-niece duo Willow Beats, whose mystical, other-worldly tunes inspired by the sounds of nature created an enchanting atmosphere of peaceful dance vibes and anticipation for what was yet to come. Following them on the 909 stage was the young and dynamic Melbourne self-taught artist Tash Sultana, whose beautiful melodies and impressive flute-playing captivated the audience.
A similar trend of relaxed, pleasant vibes was taking place on the Atari stage, with electronic singer-producer JOY and neo-soul songstress Ngaiire delivering gorgeous sets, before Swedish cloud rapper Yung Lean raised the tempo, giving festival-goers a taste of Nordic Hip Hop.
Despite being a big fan of electronic acts Cosmo’s Midnight and L D R U, it was an easy decision to abandon the prospect of catching their sets to ensure a prime position for Anderson Paak.Since dropping arguably the best album of 2016, Malibu, in early 2016, the Californian-based artist has been creating waves in the music industry, generating a lot of buzz with his unique, hip hop funk. Joined by his backing ensemble, the Free Nationals, Anderson Paak delivered an electric set, with the soul-rap visionary amping up his usual laid-back tunes to a whole new level. With a great spot on the fence, just left of centre, I was treated to an engaging, high-energy performance that really highlighted his talent as a performer and showcased his little-known drumming abilities.
Fresh from their tour of the States and added to the Listen Out line-up as a last-minute replacement for English grime-rapper Stormzy, who pulled out due to unforeseen circumstances, it was always going to be difficult for Australian electronic dance duo Slumberjack to fill the hole left in the hearts of Grime-lovers, who were also recently left devastated at by Skepta’s sudden, controversial cancellation of his Australian tour, just after bagging the 2016 Mercury Prize. But the duo certainly didn’t disappoint, saving the day with a sublime set.
That’s when things got hectic. With trap and bass producer Baauer, the man behind internet sensation the Harlem Shake up next, followed by self-professed Trap lord A$AP Ferg, preceding hip hop trap-rapper Travis Scott, the Atari Stage became the home of Trap. Indeed, it felt as though the Atari stage became home for the majority of the Listen Out population, with the vicinity quickly becoming extremely packed despite the mostly successful attempts to thwart the swarms of persistent fence-jumpers. Eager to ensure we had a good spot come Travis Scott, we worked our way into the pulsating crowd as Baauer began his set. The mosh seemed to take on a life of its own as we slowly merged our way deeper into the gyrating creature we had become apart of.
As mere cells in the ever-moving organism that was the mosh, we moved as one; surging, swerving, heaving, weaving. Phantom thrusts sent forceful waves of energy crashing through the sea of people, causing whole sections of the crowd to trip and collapse, sparking frantic rescue attempts to save those who had fallen. The atmosphere was simply explosive, as the much-hyped American Trap trio lived up to their hefty expectations. Travis Scott, in particular, was incredible - fresh from dropping his insane new album Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, the Houston rapper-producer delivered an exhilarating set that sent both literal and metaphorical goosebumps down the spine of the mosh monster.
As we were well and truly apart of the Atari animal, there was never any chance of making it out to catch LA-based genre-blender Jauz, but by all accounts he treated fans to an extremely fun set, packed with his own bangers to go with a handful of remixes of current popular tunes, from the Chainsmokers ‘Closer’ to Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling,’ and of course Kanye.
After such a crazy, exhausting day, the future house from Parisian producer Tchami and spacey tunes from Sydney’s atmospheric alternative dance group Rüfüs was the perfect way to end an incredible festival that blended Hip Hop, Trap, Electronic, Dance and Soul to create a melodious milkshake able to delight the music taste buds of almost anyone.
Here’s hoping the 2017 edition will be just as amazing!
Meanwhile, relive those Listen Out 2016 moments with these amazing snaps by Perth photographer Tanya Voltchanskaya below: